Aquatic Therapy For Parkinson’s Disease: Let’s Dive In

You face challenges every day when you live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Which means you’re already stronger than you realize. Because your life’s not defined by your mobility deficits; it’s made whole by the steps you take to manage them. Test the waters with aquatic therapy, and you can do more than just build strength and improve your balance — you can maintain long-term independence and improve your overall quality of life.

Now, before we wade deeper into all of the benefits of aquatic therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, let’s cover the definitions for those who aren’t familiar with PD or Aquatic Therapy.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement. In other words: It’s a brain disorder that manifests physically. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can include shaking, stiffness, walking difficulties, and balance and coordination issues.

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy. It usually takes place in a temperature-controlled pool while working one-on-one with a licensed practitioner. Aquatic therapy covers a wide range of water-based therapeutic techniques and exercises for relaxation, fitness, and rehabilitation.

Ok, let’s take a closer look at how water therapy can work as a treatment for Parkinson’s.

5 Amazing Ways Aquatic Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patients:

  • Reduce your risk (and fear) of falling. 
    Stumbles and falls are a genuine concern when you’re managing Parkinson’s symptoms. That’s why water-based activities are so beneficial. Because the fear of falling melts away when you’re in the pool. So you can complete a wide variety of low-impact exercises with very minimal risk.
  • Allow buoyancy to wash away pain.
    Water’s natural buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity, which means your body weight is reduced by 75-90%. That’s an incredible amount of relief for weak and sore muscles. Plus, you can move with greater ease in the pool. You can make bigger movements and conserve more energy. This is particularly helpful if you struggle with fatigue or want to alleviate pain.
  • Build strength with water’s natural resistance.
    Forget about heavy dumbbells or clunky machines. Let the water’s turbulence be your training tool. The way the water moves, and the currents and flows it creates, provides proper resistance for every plane of motion. This kind of environment challenges your balance and coordination skills — prompting your core muscles to engage so you can build strength and improve posture.
  • Soak in the warmth to relax your muscles.
    Warm water is a marvelous medium for muscle therapy. Soothing temperatures help minimize rigidity, stiffness, and pain so you can increase your flexibility and boost blood circulation. This kind of relaxation can ultimately help reduce swelling and tremors.
  • Engage your body and your brain.
    While the symptoms of Parkinson’s are largely physical, the disease itself is based in the brain, so it’s important that you engage both body and mind. The simple act of stepping into a pool can spark joy and promote relaxation. Plus, water-based workouts trigger the release of endorphins (those delightful anti-stress hormones that produce a positive sense of wellbeing).

Find Your Partner in Parkinson’s Physical Therapy with Ageility When you live with PD, building a great support system is everything — from finding the right doctor to engaging family and friends on your journey. It also means finding a therapy partner you can trust, one with the expertise to support your unique neurological condition and physical symptoms. This is where Ageility’s Partner in Parkinson’s Program can really make an impact in your life. Several of our clinics are located in senior living communities with on-site pools, so you can dive in and experience the benefits of Aquatic Therapy for yourself. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

30-Minute Workout for Older Adults

Independence. It’s a powerful word. Especially as you age. Because independence is life. It’s the freedom to walk down the street unaided for a visit with your neighbor. It’s the power to pick up your grandkids for a sweet snuggle. It’s the energy to grab your golf clubs and putt for par on the back nine. And your path to maintaining independence is rooted in regular exercise.

So let’s get moving. Join 78-year-old Mac McCaffrey for a 30 minute, step-by-step workout as he trains for the National Senior Games with Ageility personal trainer, Adam Boyette. This half-hour senior workout is specifically designed with older adults like you in mind. So you can increase your mobility, improve your balance, build strength, and most of all…live your best life.

Here’s all you’ll need to complete your 30-minute workout:

  • 1 chair
  • 1 hand towel
  • 2 filled water bottles (you’ll use these as weights)

Just remember: Safety is key. So before you begin, make sure the floor around you is clear and that you have an extra chair nearby for added support.

This workout also comes with a supporting guide — a printable PDF document that you can reference again and again. It outlines every exercise you’re about to enjoy. Take a look, print it out, and save it for future use.

Start your 30-minute senior workout with a warm up.

A great warm up is more than just a good idea. It’s an essential part of your workout. So use this time to wake up your muscles and prepare your body for the work ahead. Follow Mac and Adam as they complete a series of stretches that will help get you ready to move.

Best Warm-up Exercises for Seniors

Neck Stretch - Left and Right

Neck Stretch – Left and Right
Slowly bring your right ear to your right shoulder and hold. Then repeat the same movement on the left. Do this three times on each side.

Neck Stretch - Front and Back

Neck Stretch – Front and Back
Slowly bring your chin to your chest and hold. Then look up to the ceiling with your chin up. Repeat this movement three times.

Shoulder Rotations

Shoulder Rotations
Bring your hands to your side and complete 10 forward shoulder rotations, then 10 backward rotations.

Seated Lateral Torso Bend

Seated Lateral Torso Bend
Have a seat in your chair and bring your hands to your side. Reach to your right toward the floor, then to your left. Complete 7 to 10 reaches on each side.

Seated Torso Rotations

Seated Torso Rotations
Cross your hands in front of your body and rotate to your right, then to your left. Complete 10 rotations on each side.

Seated Torso Bend

Seated Torso Bend
Place your hands on your lap and open your legs a little bit. Interlock your fingers, and reach down to the floor. Come back up and repeat 4 times.

Marching High Knees

Marching High Knees
Stand up and find your balance. You can hold onto the back of your chair if needed. Begin to march in place. Complete 12 high-knee movements on each leg.

Single-Leg Hip Circles

Single-Leg Hip Circles
Remain standing and hold onto the back of your chair. Slightly lift one leg and start to move it in circles. Complete 12 leg circles on each side.

Keep moving with the main workout.

Your workout is in full swing now. So grab your towel and your water bottles, because they’re joining the fitness party for this next set of exercises. Watch Mac and Adam while you complete a series of upper and lower-body strength and balance movements.

Set one: Senior fitness – towel exercises.

Seated Straight-Arm Shoulder Raise

Seated Straight-Arm Shoulder Raise
Grip your towel at each end. Start at your knees and raise your towel above your head, keeping tension on the towel. Then lower it back down. Repeat the movement 10 times.

Straight-Arm Steering Wheels

Straight-Arm Steering Wheels
Grip your towel tightly at each end. Keep tension on the towel and rotate from left to right. Repeat the movement 8 times in each direction.

Chest Press with Torso Reach

Chest Press with Torso Reach
Grip your towel tightly at each end. Bring your towel to your chest and reach forward as far as you can. Then straighten back to the starting position. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times. You can do this exercise standing or sitting.

Tension Pulls

Tension Pulls
Bring your towel to the front and pull it tight like you’re trying to rip it in half. Bring your hands back together, then pull back. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.

X-Tension Pulls

X-Tension Pulls
Working in an X-style motion, rotate and pull your towel up and down. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.

Standing Straight-Arm Shoulder Raise

Standing Straight-Arm Shoulder Raise
Gripping your towel at each end, pull it tightly while you reach up high as you can. Then bring your arms back down. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times.

Set two: Senior fitness – upper-body strength with water bottles.

Front Shoulder Raise

Front Shoulder Raise
Hold your two filled water bottles in front of your thighs, then reach up and down. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.

Bicep Curl with Shoulder Press

Bicep Curl with Shoulder Press
Hold your two filled water bottles in front of your thighs with your palms facing out. Curl the water bottles up toward your shoulders, then rotate your wrists so your palms are facing out. Push up toward the ceiling. Bring your arms back down to your shoulders and rotate your wrists so your palms are facing in. Curl your arms back down to the starting position. Repeat this movement 12 times.

Lateral Shoulder Raise

Lateral Shoulder Raise
Hold your water bottles down at your sides. Slowly lift your arms out (no higher than shoulder level). Then lower back down. Repeat this movement 12 to 15 times.

Overhead Triceps Extension

Overhead Triceps Extension
Holding your water bottles in each hand, bring your arms up behind your ears and lower your hands. Point your elbows up as high as you can extend your arms toward the ceiling. Then extend back down. Repeat the movement 6 to 10 times.

Skier Triceps Extension

Skier Triceps Extension
Holding your water bottles in each hand, bring your hands up near your armpits, then push your arms back. Repeat this movement 6 to 10 times.

Alternating Bicep Curls

Alternating Bicep Curls
Holding your water bottles in each hand, complete a set of alternating arm curls. Repeat this movement 20 to 25 times on each arm.

Set three: Senior fitness – lower-body strength workout.

Lateral Weight Shifts

Lateral Weight Shifts
Stand behind your chair, using it for support. Position your legs a little wider than shoulder width apart and begin to shift your weight from left to right. As you shift from side to side, one leg will be bent while the other is straight. Complete 10 to 15 reps on each leg.

Staggered Stance Power Knees

Staggered Stance Power Knees
Step to one side of your chair and hold on for balance. Step back with your right leg, then lift your knee up to waist level. Bring your leg back down and repeat. Complete 10 high-knee movements on your right side. Then, step to the other side of the chair and repeat the movement for 10 reps on your left leg.

Lateral Bends

Lateral Bends
Stand behind your chair with your feet together. Place your right hand on the back of the chair to steady yourself. Then reach up with your left arm as high as you can, slowly bending to the right. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds. Then switch sides. Complete the movement a few times on each side.

Single-Leg Lateral Hip Flexion

Single-Leg Lateral Hip Flexion
Position your legs nice and wide as you stand behind your chair. Hold onto the chair and shift your weight onto your right leg. Lift your left leg up and hold for 5 seconds. Then repeat on the other leg. Complete the movement 2 to 3 times.

Toe Stands

Toe Stands
Stand behind your chair with your feet together. Lift up onto your toes as high as you can and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat this movement 2 to 3 times.

Now, wrap up with a cool down.

You’re almost done! The only thing left to do is cool down. Which means it’s time to relax, stretch, catch your breath, and lower your heart rate. Follow along as Mac and Adam show you how to successfully finish your workout.

Breathing with Shoulder Raise

Breathing with Shoulder Raise
Sit in your chair and place your feet flat on the floor. Interlock your fingers and reach your arms up toward the ceiling while taking a deep breath in. Then lower your arms back down while breathing out. Repeat the movement 5 times.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Seated Hamstring Stretch
Bring your feet together and point your toes toward the ceiling. Slide your hands down your legs while keeping your chin up and looking forward. Hold for 10 seconds, then slide your hands back up your legs to your starting position. Repeat the movement 3 to 4 times.

Hand over Hand Focused Breathing

Hand over Hand Focused Breathing
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat the breathing exercise 5 to 10 times.

Wrist Stretch

Wrist Stretch
Bring your hands in a prayer position then slowly bend them from left to right. Complete the movement 10 to 15 times.

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch
Place your left hand on your right shoulder. Then use your right hand to slowly pull your elbow towards your body. Switch sides and repeat the movement 10 to 20 times on each arm.

Good Morning Stretch

Good Morning Stretch
Stretch your arms back like you’re waking up in the morning. Bring your arms back down and shake them out. Repeat the movement 3 to 5 times.

Reach your senior fitness and rehab goals — one step (and stretch) at a time.

Every step you take matters. Whether you’re physically taking a walk or mentally making a choice to stay active. It’s all proof that you’re moving forward. So if you start to notice that you’re slowing down, don’t let it hold you back. Turn to Ageility to help reach your senior fitness goals, and start turning things around.

Get the personalized senior fitness training and rehab support you need to keep advancing. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

Senior living communities: This is your chance to bring specialized rehab services and fitness classes to your community. Discover the benefits of Ageility partnerships now.

What’s Your Why For Senior Fitness and Rehab?

The path to senior health and wellness isn’t always a straight line. It’s ever changing, complete with plenty of bumps, curves, stops, and starts. Even when you feel young at heart, your body doesn’t always cooperate. It can sometimes slow down just when you’re ready to rev up. So when it comes to reaching your rehab and fitness goals as an older adult, there’s power in finding your why.

4 Tips To Find Your Senior Wellness Why

Inspiration. Aspiration. Motivation. Your why is your reason to take action. Your core driver to achieve your senior fitness and wellness goal (or set of goals). It ignites you and fuels your desire to get stronger and live healthier. So how do you find it? And how do you hold on to it? Here are four tips to help you get started on your path to senior health and wellness.

  1. Look inward to move forward.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all motivator when it comes to senior fitness and rehab, which means the key to finding your specific why is to dig deep. Think about what matters most to you. Ask yourself some questions: Why do I want to get stronger? Am I missing out on doing things I love because I don’t feel my best? What brings me the most joy in life? Identifying your why can prompt powerful emotions, all of which will help motivate you to take action toward your senior health and fitness goals. Here’s a great exercise to try:

    I want to _______________, so I can _______________.

    For example… I want to get stronger, so I can get back on the golf course. I want to stay active, so I can keep up with my grandkids. I want to get in better shape, so I can stay independent. I want to rehab my hip, so I can rejoin my walking club. I want to feel steady on my feet, so I can enjoy more outings and trips.

  2. Write it down, so you can live it up.
    The simple act of writing down your senior fitness goals can help turn thoughts into actions. It can connect you to what you’re truly thinking. Which can help shift how you feel — and how you show up in life. In other words: Pen and paper make powerful tools when it comes to senior fitness and rehab. By writing down your why, you can reach new depths of self-discovery. And once your why is on paper, post it somewhere you can easily read it every day.
  3. Find strength in staying the course.
    Working towards your senior wellness why is a journey. Which means it needs to be sustainable. So ask the question: Is your why strong enough to help keep you on the healthy-living track, even when the road gets rough? Because bumps along the way are to be expected. That’s part of life. But when your why is strong, so is your resolve to stay on track.
  4. See yourself succeeding.
    Once you know your senior wellness why, it’s time to bring it to life in your mind. Visualize yourself doing what you love, with the people you love most. Picture yourself back on the golf course. Imagine yourself walking the deck on your cruise ship. Envision yourself on a picnic with your grandkids. Surround yourself with images that connect you emotionally to your why. This will help remind you of who you want to be and what you’re working toward.

Remember: You’re chasing a feeling, not a finish line. Have faith in your own strength. Believe in your potential. Get inspired with Senior Fitness 101: Tips for Staying Active as an Older Adult. And start asking yourself: What’s my why?

Find your why with a senior fitness and rehab partner.

Your wellness journey is deeply personal, but you don’t have to go it alone. Ageility is here to support you every step of the way — whether you need specialized rehab services or are looking for senior fitness classes near you. We’re your partner on the path to healthy senior living. And we’ve got your back. Find an Ageility clinic near you to start working towards your why right now.

Senior Fitness 101: Tips for Staying Active as an Older Adult

It’s no secret that consistent exercise plays a huge role in helping seniors live healthier, longer and more independent lives. The benefits are life-changing, but finding the motivation to get moving each day doesn’t get any easier as we get older.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting started with a senior fitness routine is the term “exercise” itself. For some, the word exercise is associated with pain and discomfort. Once you start thinking of exercise as encompassing all forms of “movement,” though, the whole idea of staying active changes—and becomes way more fun. What once may have seemed like something you just did in gym class or for sports practice when you were young can now be done by anyone, of any age or skill level.

Whether it’s pickleball, gardening, or just taking your pup out for a walk around the neighborhood, there are lots of easy and effective ways to incorporate movement into your active senior lifestyle. Not sure where to start in your senior fitness journey?

Here are five tips to help you get motivated to make movement a habit this year and beyond.

1. Make Senior Fitness a Priority

Many of us lead busy lives, and it’s easy to put physical activity at the bottom of the “to do” list. Remember, though, being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve your health. Make it a point to include physical activities throughout your day. Try being active first thing in the morning before you get busy. Think of your time to exercise as a special appointment and mark it on your calendar.

2. Make It Easy to Stay Active

If it’s difficult, costs too much, or is too inconvenient, you probably won’t be active. When it comes to senior fitness, as with any age, you are more likely to exercise if it’s easy to do. Put your two-pound weights next to your easy chair so you can do some lifting while you watch TV or walk up and down the soccer field during your grandchild’s game. When you go out to get the mail, go for a walk around the block. Or consider joining a gym or senior fitness center that’s close to home. You can be active all at once or break it up into smaller amounts throughout the day—just keep moving.

Whatever sort of senior fitness regimen you choose, be sure it incorporates these four types of exercise recommended for older adults:

Senior Fitness Exercises – Four Key Types of Exercise for Older Adults
Endurance Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity that leaves you breathing hard. You can do it in 10-minute increments, you can do it 3-5 times a week. Start low and slow and increase duration and energy level as you get more fit.
Strength Everything you do requires muscles: getting up from a chair, lifting a grandchild, carrying groceries are all things you’d like to be able to do without needing assistance. Keeping your muscles in shape keeps you independent.
Balance Falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths among seniors. Incorporating balance exercises into your senior fitness routine is crucial for safety. Practicing standing on one foot and walking heel to toe can help you improve your balance.
Flexibility Stretching is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back. You’ll find it easier to tie your shoes, look over your shoulder when backing out of the driveway, and reach for things whether they’re on a high shelf or the ground.

3. Make Senior Exercise Safe

Moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, is safe for almost all older adults. Even so, avoiding injury is an important thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re just starting a new activity or you haven’t been active for a long time. Talk to your doctor if you have an ongoing health condition or certain other health problems or if you haven’t seen your doctor for a while.

Ask how physical activity can help you, whether you should avoid certain activities, and how to modify exercises to fit your situation. You may feel some minor discomfort or muscle soreness when you start to exercise. This should go away as you get used to the activities; however, if you feel sick to your stomach or have strong pain, you’ve done too much. Go easier and then gradually build up. Consider working with a senior physical trainer like an Ageility Fitness specialist to help guide you in your progression.

4. Make It Social

Maintaining an active senior lifestyle is so much easier when you’re not doing it alone. Enlist a friend or family member. Many people agree that having an “exercise buddy” keeps them going. Take a yoga class with a neighbor. If you don’t already have an exercise partner, find one by joining a walking club at your local mall or take a walk during lunch with a co-worker.

5. Make It Interesting and Fun

To help you feel motivated and excited to maintain a senior fitness routine, do things you enjoy and pick up the pace a bit. If you love the outdoors, try biking, fishing, jogging or hiking. Listen to music or a book on CD while walking, gardening or raking. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. The goal is to be creative and choose exercises from each of the four categories—endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Mixing it up will help you reap the benefits of each type of exercise, as well as reduce boredom and risk of injury.

The Ageility Difference — Older adult fitness catered to you

Whether you’re just getting started toward a more active lifestyle or have been active your whole life, sometimes taking the next step can be daunting, especially when you’re going it alone. Ageility rehab and senior fitness specialists are here to help. Whether your goal is competing in the National Senior Games or playing catch with grandkids, Ageility’s older adult fitness training plans are tailored to help you reach your highest possible level of fitness, and have fun doing it. Work with your Ageility Team to create a movement practice you can do safely and enjoy. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.

Not Your Typical “Athlete”

How one senior athlete is redefining the term, one step at a time

Hugh “Mac” McCaffrey jokes that it takes a very generous definition of “athlete” to consider him one. The 78-year-old resident of The Forum at Deer Creek doesn’t play sports, isn’t on any teams and would much rather go for a walk than run. Yet, this May, he’ll be Ageility’s sponsored athlete at the National Senior Games, competing in two powerwalking events—the 1,500-meter sprint and 5K distance race. That’s because Mac has the most important thing one needs to be an athlete at any age: a passion for an active lifestyle.

“I don’t consider myself to be a sterling example of anything,” he says. “I enjoy what I do.”

The making of a senior athlete – the importance of passion over talent

The term “athlete” may at first bring to mind sports legends like Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King or Muhammad Ali. Speed, endurance, strength…all are pillars of what we consider the greatest athletes of all time. For many of us, though, it can feel like being an athlete is something unattainable and for the few lucky enough to have the talent and training. Long before his journey to becoming a senior athlete, Mac felt the same way looking up to the “athletes” in his high school. “I see these guys and I was never quite ever going to be on the same level as they were,” he says. “These guys were a step above, a step faster, reaction time was a millisecond faster.”

Over time, though, Mac realized that while these athletes had talent, they had the “same fears and hang ups we all have.” What was most important to being a senior athlete, or an athlete at any age, he learned, wasn’t whether you bested the competition; it was about finding an activity you enjoy and taking that first step. For Mac, it’s going for long walks several times a day, but it could be anything that gets you up and moving.

“I’m not really in any kind of shape to be doing anything,” he says. “I don’t enjoy running, but I do enjoy walking. I was encouraged to compete in the Senior Games, and I thought, why not? It sounds fun.”

Exercising for its own sake: senior fitness and wellness

Another key aspect of being an athlete at any age, but especially a senior athlete, is regular exercise. Mac says that looks a lot different now than when he was young. Back then, he says you got exercise by signing up to play a sport and going to practice, not by going on walks. The goal of exercise, he says, was to compete. It wasn’t until several decades later that his son and granddaughters taught him that exercise—and in turn being an athlete—didn’t require a coach. Anyone could do it.

“When I was a kid, you played outside and that was your activity,” he says. “Once you stopped doing competitive sports, you stopped exercising. But now all six of my grandchildren do some sort of physical activity. My oldest granddaughter has been working out since she was seven. Exercise now…it’s about keeping moving.”

Making “athlete” accessible for anyone

Mac is a competitive guy, but he says he’s not feeling the pressure to win gold against the top senior athletes from across the country. What’s most important, he says, is to have fun, make his community proud and show that the “athlete” umbrella is a lot bigger than you might think. Whether you prefer walking, water aerobics, pickleball or all the above, it’s dedication and a passion for movement that matters most. Who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll be a senior athlete competing at the Senior Games.

“If anybody has reservations about doing the senior games, I would say go for it,” says Mac. “What do you have to lose? If I do well, super. If I do badly, will I be embarrassed? Maybe a little bit. But at the end of the day, I don’t owe anybody any money and I have had an enjoyable experience.”

How to keep up with Mac and reach your senior fitness goals

The National Senior Games may still be several months off, but you can follow Mac’s journey and training routine every step of the way. To learn more about how Ageility Fitness can help you become an athlete at any age like Mac, visit ageility.com/fitness or find an Ageility location near you

Is There a Difference Between Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation?

Whether it’s from a slip in the kitchen or a bad swing on the golf course, injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. They occur to people of all ages, but seniors are especially at risk.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, you’ve probably asked yourself if physical therapy or rehabilitation is the best route to recovery, and if there are differences between the two. Take a closer look at what the two terms encompass, though, and you discover that they’re far more intertwined than you may think.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation – the Holistic Rehab Umbrella

The main difference between physical therapy and rehabilitation is that physical therapy (PT) is a form of rehabilitation, but not all rehabilitation is PT. The essence of rehab is that it’s holistic and requires an interdisciplinary approach. Agency accreditation requires a rehab provider to have multiple disciplines that work together to effectively support the best outcome for the participant. Studies show that one of the most effective ways to prevent injury in older adults is through person-centered rehab that can help improve balance, muscle strength and endurance.

What is holistic rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation can often include a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to address the needs of the person more holistically. Often more than one form of rehab may be called for when a person has multiple issues or treatment goals, whether they be improving memory, being able to speak more clearly or manage pain. That’s why a holistic rehab provider like Ageility that can tailor treatment plans to your personal goals is key to preventing injury, restoring function and improving quality of life.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy (PT) involves helping people improve their movement, functional ability and overall wellbeing through tailored exercises and treatments. It’s no secret that aches and pains are a part of life as we get older. Medical conditions and injuries can also make it difficult to sustain the quality of life you desire. When considering options for rehabilitation, physical therapy can be best for people who have an impairment or illness that results in pain and/or limited mobility.

PT treatment comes from professionally licensed physical therapists who are trained to help you improve mobility and balance and reduce or eliminate pain. They are also key to preventing injury and reducing fall risk. Physical therapy for seniors can include a range of programs. At Ageility, where therapists are specialized in treating older adults, rehabilitation and physical therapy services include:

  • Fall prevention and balance
  • Chronic and acute pain management and prevention
  • Arthritic pain management
  • Strength and flexibility
  • Postsurgical rehabilitation
  • Sports medicine

Rehabilitation: Physical Therapy and Beyond

Rehab encompasses all therapies and treatments that help people return to a previous level of function, whether after surgery or a stroke, or when adapting to live with conditions like Parkinson’s. Everyone’s situation is different, so rehab looks specifically at each person’s needs to develop person-centered therapy that addresses their unique circumstances.

Typically, receiving more than one type of rehab treatment would require going to several different therapy providers. Ageility makes it easy by providing the full spectrum of rehab services—physical, occupational and speech—in one location. That means less time figuring out how to get to rehab, and more time actually doing it.

The Ageility Difference: Holistic, Effective Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy Services Near You

Whether you need physical therapy to get back to your golf game or other rehabilitation services that can help you regain your independence after a surgery or stroke, being able to participate in person centered rehabilitation treatment is key to helping you stay fit and on your feet. At Ageility, we know that rehab needs are different for older adults than younger adults. The numbers speak for themselves. We’ve seen that older adults living in communities with an Ageility clinic have a 36% reduced risk of falls and are able to stay in their communities on average 31% longer.

Rehab plays a key role in helping older adults avoid injury, restore function and improve their quality of life. Reaching those goals requires holistic treatment from an experienced provider. With Ageility’s full spectrum of rehabilitation services for older adults all in one location, they’re never far off no matter what stage of health they’re starting from.

To learn more about Ageility’s holistic rehab services for older adults, contact [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

How to Manage Winter Arthritis Pain

There’s a lot to look forward to when winter rolls around—hot cocoa by the fire, putting up holiday decorations, reuniting with family…it’s truly a magical time of year. If you’re one of the 50 million people in the US with arthritis, though, the colder weather can take a toll on your joints and keep you from the activities you love because of arthritis pain.

Here’s the good news: Whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, there’s lots you can do to manage arthritis pain so you can get right back to building a snowman with the grandkids. One of the best strategies for managing arthritis in the winter is getting personalized treatment from innovative physical therapy providers like Ageility Rehab and Fitness. Just a few lifestyle changes at home, though, can also make a big impact. Here are seven easy and effective remedies that can help soothe arthritis pain and make your winter more active and comfortable.

7 Ways to Reduce Winter Arthritis Pain

  1. Bundle up: Cold is a common trigger for aching and swelling joints, so keeping yourself warm by layering up on clothes—particularly pain centers like your hands, knees and legs—is key to raising your body temperature and reducing joint pain.
  2. Check your vitamin D: During the winter months, many older adults stay inside. A lack of exposure to sunlight increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. When you are deficient in vitamin D, it can lead to joint pain and aching muscles. Talk with your primary care physician about the need for a vitamin D screening.
  3. Stay active: When it’s cold outside and you are experiencing arthritis pain, the last thing you might want to do is exercise. But one of the best ways to keep joints working is to use them. Consider exercises like tai chi, yoga and swimming, especially if you have access to a heated therapy pool. You’ll benefit from both the heat and the no-impact exercise.
  4. Eat smart: Your diet can play a role in managing arthritis symptoms too. Some foods can increase swelling, which can raise pain levels, while other foods can fight inflammation. Cherries, berries, grapes, cabbage, kale, spinach, and plums, combined with omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts, can help decrease joint swelling. Also, try to avoid processed foods, sugary treats, and fast foods.
  5. Get more Vitamin C: There is growing research to indicate that foods high in vitamin C may be linked to an increase in new collagen production. Collagen is a critical component of cartilage, which is often damaged as arthritis worsens. Bell pepper, citrus fruits, cauliflower, cherries, and strawberries may be good additions to your diet.
  6. Try heated paraffin dips: Try giving your hands and feet a dip in heated paraffin wax. Salons and spas usually offer this service. If you prefer to do it at home, kits are less than $30. You could also try heated lavender slippers and gloves. These can be warmed up in the microwave and used repeatedly.
  7. Drink green tea: The benefits of green tea are numerous—one of which is blocking chemicals in the body that are believed to cause inflammation. Green tea may also prevent cartilage from further damage due to arthritis.

Treating Arthritis: Why Physical Therapy is Key

Following these seven tips may be able to help relieve arthritis symptoms, but if joint pain persists or gets worse, it’s time to start looking for a more tailored treatment plan. Physical therapy addresses your specific aches and pains so you can get back to tossing snowballs at the grandkids without flare-ups slowing you down. Ageility’s team of licensed physical therapists are trained in arthritis pain management and work with you to develop a treatment plan that relieves pain and swelling and restores muscle balance around the affected joints, without the need for medication.

Reduce Arthritis Pain and Reach Your Goals with Ageility

Whether you want to shovel snow ache-free, or wrap presents without sore and swelling joints, working with a physical therapist and making a few changes to your lifestyle can help make winter less painful, and more joyful. To learn more about Ageility’s physical therapy services, contact Ageility at [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

How Innovative Rehab Helped a Navy Veteran Regain Independence

Something was different at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy in 1974. Or rather, someone. The change was most apparent during a session where every officer was gathered. When the speaker got up to give his normal greeting, he noticed that this time, for the first time, he’d have to expand it a bit. “Good morning gentlemen…and lady,” he said.

That odd woman out was Jean Neely, a US Navy captain and the first woman officer ever to attend the NATO Defense College. That was just one of many firsts Jean accomplished during her glass ceiling-shattering, 26-year career in the Navy, including being one of the first women selected for major command.

Then in 1976, after years of hard work and dedicated service to her country, Jean Neely was looking forward to a restful retirement. Yet, like many older adults, Jean’s minor aches and pains became more debilitating as she grew older. Eventually she was diagnosed with what she jokingly calls the “triple whammy”—Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and an autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis. Then came the injuries: five joint replacements, several busted fingers and one shattered vertebra after a fall in her West Virginia home on Easter Sunday 2021.

“My doctor said I could go to the hospital or to rehab in assisted living,” she says, “and I didn’t want to go to the hospital.”

More Than Just Innovative Rehab Therapy: The Ageility Difference

In spring of 2021, Jean made a temporary move to an assisted living apartment in the Somerford House & Place Hagerstown senior living community and began physical therapy at the on-site Ageility Rehab & Fitness clinic. Jean says she had seen dozens of physical therapists over the years, but there was something different about Ageility’s that she noticed immediately.

“They know every one of the residents and interacted with them in a very friendly way,” she wrote in a testimonial about her experience. “I can honestly say that the Ageility group of therapists put any and all others I’ve known ‘in the shade’ with their professionalism and attention to their patients’ needs.”

Since Jean required the whole gamut of innovative therapy—occupational, physical and speech—Ageility’s continuum of care and wide range of specialized rehab and fitness services were key to helping her toward her ultimate goal: moving back home and regaining independence. Each therapist got her one step closer. One helped her enunciate words through the Big and Loud speech therapy that’s part of the LSVT program to the point where she can even say Mary Poppins’ “supercalifragilisIcexpialidocious” without skipping a beat. One of her favorite parts? “Everything was just down the hall. How easy is that?” she says.

Now, with her departure imminent after just five months, she says the whole experience blew away her expectations.

“I just assumed I was going to an institution,” she says, “I never realized that I would make friends and miss people when I left.”

An Extraordinary Recovery from an Extraordinary Veteran

Jean’s five-month recovery is just one in a long line of obstacles she’s overcome over the years. Though her Navy career was one marked by unforgettable experiences like her “absolutely fabulous” two-year stint in Morocco, overt sexism in the ranks (and in the law of the land) prevented her from ever serving aboard a Navy ship. She also saw her male counterparts get promoted at a faster rate, despite the same work. Yet, there was something about Jean that kept her going, in the face of all odds, to become one of only 12 women Navy captains in 1976. Now, there are hundreds.

“I’m just a very persistent person,” says Jean. “Sometimes I have to walk away from things for a while, but they always nag at me until I get them done.”

Jean Neely

Starting from the Bottom Rung

That nagging feeling also followed Jean around in her youth in the 1950s when she was searching for a career that would allow her to give back to the country she loved. In those days there was no Peace Corps, no VISTA, so Jean found a program in the Navy that would permit her to take her training during the summers and get her commission upon graduation from college.

Duty to the Stars and Stripes also played a huge role in family when she was growing up. Her father and both her brothers were part of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II. So, after graduating from Bates College, she began her Navy career in 1953 in Seattle as an ensign.

“Ensign is the lowest form of life, with only one gold stripe on your sleeve,” jokes Jean.

Climbing the Ladder to Captain

It was slow-going, but Jean made an impression. At each Naval station she transferred to, she gained more responsibility as her male superiors learned that she didn’t just keep up with her male counterparts, she surpassed them. In 1956, Jean headed to Washington D.C. where she was promoted to Lieutenant, from there she proceeded to duty stations in Morocco, Maryland and promotion to Lieutenant Commander. In 1964, she headed for the US Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, graduating the next year with a Master of Science. She headed back to Washington where she met and married her husband. Moves to Memphis, Norfolk, and promotion to Captain, followed by Rome and then back to D.C. ensued, where she completed her career.

Jean says she would have loved to serve aboard a ship, but the law did not allow it at the time. She was selected to be the commanding officer of a major command in San Diego in 1974, but instead she opted to retire, so she and her husband could travel.

“The challenges in the Navy were so terrific; I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” she says.

A Remarkable Life, Recognized

Jean’s persistence and historic career are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and not just from her Ime in the Navy. After several years of travel, the Neely’s settled in eastern West Virginia, where Jean was able to expand her interests in the natural world. One of her interests was fulfilled when she founded the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, in 1982. Last year, the organization named a pavilion after her and declared her birthday, July 10, as Founder’s Day.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything very exceptional,” Jean says. What she has done, through countless challenges from rising through the ranks to recovering from injury, is persist. To Jean and all the veterans who have served over the years, we thank you for your service.

Discover the Ageility Difference and Get Back to the Life You Love

It’s amazing what a spirit of persistence and the help of an exceptional innovative rehab team can do. In just five months of Ageility Rehab & Fitness, Jean was able to regain her independence at age 90 and accomplish her goal of moving back home.

To discover how Ageility can help you reach your goals through a tailored treatment and fitness plan, find an Ageility clinic near you.

Word Finding Difficulties in Seniors

How Speech Language Therapy Can Help

We’ve all had the feeling. The word you’re thinking of is right there, struggling to get out, but keeps getting stuck on the tip of your tongue. Difficulty with word retrieval can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a conversation with your family and need to keep pausing to rack your brain for a word.

What Do We Mean by Word Finding Difficulties?

This is such a common phenomenon that there’s a clinical name for it: “tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) state.” This occurs when parts of your brain temporarily don’t work together to retrieve the word you’re looking for, leaving you feeling a bit like a deer stuck in…ah, what’s the word?

A “TOT state” can happen to anyone, but it’s normal for word-finding difficulties to become more frequent in older adults. Information is processed slower, so lengthier pauses in conversation and tips of the tongue experiences are more common amongst older adults. These issues could be stemming from Alzheimer’s, but more often it’s just part of the normal decline of verbal fluency that occurs during aging. Here are five common causes that could be related:

5 Common Causes of Word-Finding Difficulties

  1. Stroke: This is the most common cause of word-finding difficulty in adults. Difficulties with word retrieval are usually associated with an acquired language disorder known as aphasia.
  2. Head Trauma: The left hemisphere of our brain is responsible for our language skills. Damage to brain tissue in this general area could result in word finding difficulty.
  3. Dementia: Word finding difficulty can sometimes be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
  4. Tumors: A brain tumor can also cause word retrieval difficulties. This largely depends on where the tumor is developing. If it invades the left hemisphere, word finding difficulty can become a problem.
  5. Aging: This is a natural cause of word finding difficulty. As the brain ages, chemical changes occur and memory abilities can begin to fade.

The Benefits of Speech Language Therapy for Word Retrieval

It may be normal for it to be harder to find that word on the tip of your tongue as we age, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Developing strong word-finding strategies alongside a speech therapist in a Speech Language Therapy treatment program can help you discover new ways to find words when your brain doesn’t give them to you. Ageility’s trained speech therapists bring hope by using an individual’s strengths to help overcome their weaknesses, like practicing circumlocution to find the intended word. For example, if an individual with word finding difficulty couldn’t think of the word axe, they might say:

“It’s the thing that chops wood. You know, lumberjacks use them; it has a long handle and a sharp edge. They chop down trees with it…what is that thing called?”

Circumlocution is a great strategy for using related words to locate the missing word. It also helps keep the flow of conversation going. It’s a key tool used by Ageility’s SLPs to help clients restore their ability to think clearly and communicate effectively. Here are 10 other mental exercises and activities they recommend that can help treat word-finding issues.

10 Effective Brain Exercises to Boost Word-Finding Skills

  1. Read every day to increase your vocabulary. With an increased vocabulary, other parts of language such as word finding and fluency will improve.
  2. Practice reviewing the names of your friends and peers by mentally associating a name with their face.
  3. Take any letter of the alphabet and try and state aloud as many words as you can that start with that letter. With practice you may notice that your list of words gets longer.
  4. Write a short segment on your day’s experience in a journal. This will help improve the motor skill of writing. Research suggests that writing with a passion also improves language skills.
  5. Work on your public speaking as this is a wonderful exercise to stimulate the brain and your language skills. Talk about what you love and your anxiety will be reduced.
  6. Solve crossword puzzles to promote reading and vocabulary.
  7. Name objects that you see as you walk about the community.
  8. Work on the art of the story telling or telling a joke!
  9. List things needed to complete a simple task. For example: for gardening you would need a shovel, rake, shears, gloves, etc.
  10. Use the alphabet to cue the word you are thinking of when experiencing word finding difficulties…recite the alphabet…a,b,c,d,e,f,g …g! “I was trying to think of the word goat!”

Word-finding difficulties and TOT experiences are bound to happen every now and then, especially for older adults. With the right tools and strategies, though, you can find that word you’re looking for with ease and keep the conversation flowing. Ageility’s speech specialists can help you get there through individual assessments, treatment planning and care focused on reducing your word-finding frustrations so you can communicate clearly and joyfully.

Experienced Speech Therapy for Older Adults

Are you or a loved one experiencing tip-of-the-tongue moments more frequently? Ageility speech therapy may be able to help. Find an Ageility clinic near you to learn more.